Although we’re only two episodes in, Marvel’s What If…? is already one of the studios’ best offerings this year. Following the creation of the multiverse in Loki’s season one finale, the show explores various alternate timelines in which major moments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies happen differently. While a lot of actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are confirmed to be voicing their superheroes in the series, Tom Holland won’t be one of them.
Interestingly, Tom Holland isn’t the only actor who isn’t voicing their animated superhero. Actors whose characters have died, ended contracts, or are actively working on upcoming Marvel movies will also not be appearing in the series. This includes Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel).
The inclusion of Tom Holland in this list suggested that his absence was due to contractual issues with Sony or something simple like scheduling conflicts. Fortunately, fans don’t have to speculate anymore as the show’s producer alluded to the real reason for the actor being absent from the series.
In an interview with Collider, Brad Winderbaum talked about having to recast Tom Holland for the series. “You know, I’m not treated to all the ins and outs of the relationship with Sony. But, I think it may have had something to do with it, yeah,” he said. Although his statement isn’t very definitive, it’s pretty clear that Marvel would’ve wanted the young actor to voice Spider-Man in the animated spinoff.
Sony has owned the movie rights to Spider-Man since 1999, at a time when Marvel was recovering from bankruptcy and had licensed out a number of its characters to film studios. In the years that followed Marvel, but prior to Tom Holland coming aboard, managed to regain the rights for most of its characters – except Spider-Man who is still the most popular character not held by Marvel Studios.
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) made his Marvel Cinematic debut in Captain America: Civil War. This was due to a landmark deal between Marvel and Sony in 2015 which allowed the character to appear in crossover Marvel Studios films. Marvel also began co-producing Spider-Man films with Sony – although the rights to the character, final creative control, financing, and distribution still belonged entirely to Sony.
After the success of the partnership, Sony executives credited Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team with revitalizing the character on the big screen. Part of the success was also largely due to popular Marvel characters, such as Robert Downey JR’s Tony Stark and Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, being included in the Spider-Man movies. However, in terms of his contract, Tom Holland is only obligated to appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home. This means Sony gets to decide if they’d allow him to appear in any future Marvel spinoff shows.
So no Tom Holland, but there is plenty to get excited for here regardless. Created by A.C. Bradley for Disney+, What If…? is based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name. It is the fourth television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the studio’s first animated series. Bradley serves as head writer with Bryan Andrews directing. Jeffrey Wright stars as the Watcher, who narrates the series, alongside various actors reprising their roles from the movies. The first season of What If…? premiered on August 11th and will consist of nine episodes, concluding on October 6th.